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    A very tight qualifying, as usual

    Imola 17 aprile 2021

    In qualifying for the Gran Premio del Made in Italy e dell’Emilia-Romagna, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow pretty much confirmed its performance level seen in Bahrain with the SF21, despite the considerable difference in track characteristics and temperature when compared to Sakhir. Saturday at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit confirmed just how close the hierarchy is in the group fighting just behind the top two teams.

    Evaluation. Charles Leclerc again did brilliantly over a flying lap. As in Bahrain, the Monegasque was fourth fastest, just 329 thousandths off pole position. As a comparison, the gap here at Imola five months ago was over a second. As for Carlos, he didn’t make the cut to Q3, missing out by just 61 thousandths and he therefore starts from eleventh on the grid. Because he is outside the top ten, he does benefit from having a free choice of tyre with which to start the Grand Prix. The team will therefore look at all the strategy options to try and get the best possible result on a track where overtaking is usually rather difficult.

    Programme. The Gran Premio del Made in Italy e dell’Emilia-Romagna, the 29th race to count for the Formula 1 World Championship to be held at Imola, starts at 15 CET tomorrow. It will run over 63 laps, equivalent to 309.049 kilometres.

    Charles Leclerc #16

    "It was a very good qualifying, even though I feel we struggled a bit more compared to yesterday to achieve the lap times we wanted. We took a small compromise in terms of setup that will help us in the race tomorrow. It made it a bit more difficult in quali, so let’s wait and see. I made a small error in the chicane, maybe I could have gained another 7 or 8 hundredths there, but looking at the time sheets it wouldn’t have changed our position, so I am very happy with P4 today.

    The track is amazing. I love it because you cannot afford to make any mistakes. There is not much tyre management involved, which is something we drivers like, because it means we can push throughout the race. 

    It should be an exciting but difficult race. We are lacking a bit of straight line speed, so hopefully we will have a good enough pace to get away. If not, it will be a bit more difficult, but I think that our performance overall is better here than it was in Bahrain. At Sakhir it was a real surprise to be P4 on the grid, today, a bit less so.

    There is a lot of motivation in the team, a good momentum. We need to use it and continue to work as hard as possible as a team, keep our feet on the ground and continue to push as we have been doing for the past months. Then I am sure the good days are soon to come."

    Carlos Sainz #55

    "Today’s result is not what I wanted. I struggled to nail all the corners in one single lap since the beginning of qualifying. Every small mistake can cost you many positions in this tight field, so I am not happy because I know the lap time was there had I been able to make it all work on one strong lap.

    At the same time, I think this track has exposed that I still lack a bit of experience with the car to exactly know what to expect and how to extract the absolute maximum of it. It will come, I’m sure, but I feel I’m still on a learning curve.

    Into tomorrow, you can be sure I’ll give my absolute best to gain positions and fight for the best result possible. I’m confident in my pace and we will try to use the free tyre choice to our advantage."

    Laurent Mekies Racing Director

    "Another solid performance following on from the one in Bahrain in the opening round of the season. That’s important, because it confirms we are competitive on a very different type of track and in very different conditions to those in Sakhir. 

    Naturally, there’s a bit of disappointment that Carlos missed the cut to Q3 by just 61 thousandths in what was a very close session with 15 drivers all covered by just nine tenths. We knew that Carlos would need a few races to feel totally at ease in his new team and to gain confidence in a car that is very different to the one he was used to. He is making good progress, completely in line with our expectations. Nevertheless, his grid position means we can look at a variety of options in terms of strategy so there is every chance he can get a good result. 

    Charles secured the same grid position as in Bahrain thanks to what was overall, another great performance, something that is becoming almost the norm for him and further confirmation of his great talent. Tomorrow, the main aim will be to convert the performance level seen in qualifying into the race result. If we manage it, then we can hope to head the mid-field group in this Grand Prix, which is also our main goal for the season."